Seeing the hand of God in your life.

Recognizing and seeing the hand of God in your life can be a daunting endeavor.  Especially on regular routine days that seem nothing out of the ordinary.  Recently I read a talk given to CES students in Texas by Sister Bednar.  In it she speaks of the ability to look for and feel the hand of the Lord working in your daily life.  I loved her counsel so much!

She used a song to express 4 steps that we can use to grow closer to our Father and Heaven and our Savior.  Thus being able to recognize and understand when he is at work in our lives. 1. We must have ears to hear the word of the Lord, 2.  And eyes to see His plan, 3. Feet to follow in His path,  4. And hearts to understand. She goes on to explain each one very briefly and I feel like it is well worth the time to read it so that we can learn to recognize and feel Him close.

eyes to see

There have been many times in my life that I have felt the Lord close and recognized his hand almost immediately and other times when I felt so far away and like he wasn’t there at all for me.

In the talk, Sister Bednar offers a quote by Henry B. Eyring that is very helpful to all of us when we can’t feel him there.  He said, ““I bless you that every day, if you will ask in prayer to be shown where the hand of God intervened in your life that day, I bless you that you will see that. It will be made manifest to you. That you will see that He is leading and guiding and lifting you, and that He knows you”.

Isn’t that such a beautiful promise and blessing from an apostle of the Lord? I am definitely going to start this practice in my own evening prayers.  And maybe morning prayers as well so that I will come to know exactly what it feels like when it is happening.  The Lord wants to talk to us and he wants us to hear and feel him!

I remember one sacred time when I knelt to say my evening prayer. I was exhausted, but I had asked specific questions and then quickly ended my prayer and jumped into bed.  I had the distinct impression saying “why did you get up so quickly? I had things to say to you”.  I kind of brushed it off as my own internal dialogue and snuggled deeper into my blankets.  Then it came again more forcefully, “Get back on your knees and listen to what I have to say”.  And so I did.  And what happened next was one of the sweetest experiences that I have ever had with feeling my Savior so close to me, answering my questions and giving me the counsel that I needed at that particular time.  But it definitely took an open heart and mind to allow for this experience to happen for me.  And I promise that if you follow the counsel from Sister Bednar’s talk you can have similar and equally touching experiences in your life. And even on the daily.

One last quote to consider, Elder Bednar said “It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us—that is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us—not only to direct us but also to empower us”

Today, I encourage you to have ears to hear the word of the Lord, and eyes to see His plan, feet to follow in His path, and hearts to understand.

XO Wendy

 

 

What being “away” from the church taught me.

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I never considered myself in-active or “less active”, because to me, that meant that you had left the church.  That meant that you had denounced your faith in some way, which I never felt like I did.  However, I did step “away” from the church for a few years.  I had just gotten divorced and I’ll admit that I was really struggling with a lot of what it meant to be a member of the LDS church.  How could this happen to me?  I was married in the temple.  Things seemed to be going so well.  Was it a lack of faith?  Was it a lack of desire?  Was it complacency? Was it loneliness?  What was it exactly, that made me want to distance myself from all that I had known?  I was born and raised in the church.  I did what all my friends did, and most members that I knew.   Grew up, married a returned missionary, got married in the temple, had a family, and then lived happily ever after, right?!  So what had happened to my happily ever after?

The thing is, leaving the church, or stepping “away” from the church, your faith, your testimony, all that you have ever known to be true, doesn’t happen overnight!  It is a slow process that happens seemingly, without you even noticing until one day you’ve done it.  You are “away” from the church.  You don’t attend, or study or maybe even pray anymore (although I think prayer tends to be something you continue even when you are away.  Or at least you try).  You don’t practice your religion anymore.  And members of the church who know you and hear about it, think “it’s really sad”.   You are essentially known as a “less active” or an  inactive member.  I remember referring to myself as, ” no longer practicing”.  But really what you’re saying is a veiled way to say “I no longer have a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, therefore I have stepped “away” for a while to figure things out.” I had somehow lost my way… “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13–14)

The ironic part is that at first it feels very freeing!  I remember saying on many occasions, “I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I just can’t reconcile that it coincides with my being away from the church”.  Honestly, I never thought it would happen to me.  I did everything I was supposed to do, everything that I had been taught all those years growing up.  Sure I made my share of mistakes, as does everyone.  But I had tried to be diligent in all that I had learned through the years after my temple marriage.  Holding many different callings, while raising my little family in the gospel, going to the temple, studying my scriptures and going to church.  I was keeping my covenants, and praying.  I was doing everything, wasn’t I?  Or was I?

Truthfully, I have to admit that my temple attendance wasn’t where it should have been.  I wasn’t really reading my scriptures as much as I should have.  And I probably had become redundant in my prayers…. And I am sure there were many other “little” things.  I don’t really know exactly how it happened because it all happened SO slowly.  And the scary part is, that it can happen to ANYONE! I’m hoping that by sharing my experience it can be a voice of warning.

In Matthew we read: Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat. (Matt. 7:12) It seemed so much easier to be on the path that I was now on.

But then, that is how the opposition works right? One little flaxen cord at a time.  Like a big giant fluffy, feather, gently coaxing you.  “You don’t need to read your scriptures tonight, you’ve worked so hard all day and you’re tired.  You can get to it tomorrow.”

Go ahead buy that dress that isn’t really long enough for your temple garment… it’s so cute and you’ve worked so hard to look good.”  One more little feather.

It’s ok to miss church today.  Since you got divorced, no one really cares anyway.”  One more little feather gently waving and caressing you away.  It feels so good to be free, you say!  But little do you know how hard Satan is working on you!  All of those “little tiny feathers” are turning into a very tightly woven cord, and you are being led along without even realizing it.

Joseph B. Wirthlin of the quorum of the twelve apostles stated, “We get sidetracked by submitting to temptations that divert us past the bounds of safety. Satan knows our weaknesses. He puts attractive snares on our paths at just those moments when we are most vulnerable. His intent is to lead us from the way that returns us to our Heavenly Father.”

After a while I was so comfortable with the way that I was living my life that I began to think I no longer needed religion in my life.  I no longer needed the church or a testimony or to be “bound” down by callings and church attendance. I had entered in at the wide gate and it felt good to be just like everyone else!

And then something began to happen…. I NEEDED God.  I NEEDED the church.  I NEEDED the priesthood.  I NEEDED my testimony! I NEEDED all of it! And how had that happened? Yep, you guessed it, SO SLOWLY!  Little seeds were being planted along the way until all of sudden it was unmistakeable!  You can see my post “living with bi-polar” for some of the story but I will definitely write more about all of the little experiences that happened in between in upcoming posts.  But lucky for us, one thing that God never does, is give up on his children!  No not one.

“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

“And if it so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” (Matt. 18:12–13.)

Luckily, God’s angels both here and on the other side are working just as hard if not harder to get you back!  And now that I am back, I am so thankful for that.  I know that there were many prayers and fasts that went out in my behalf.  Many times my name was probably written in the roles of the temple.  Many tears that were cried for my salvation, and many angels that were working from the other side to influence me.

So why am I writing about this?  It’s not exactly an easy subject to approach.  People leave the church for all different reasons.  There is nothing special or singular about my situation or why I left.  At least that is what I thought.  But the truth is, I believe it IS similar for most people, in that it happens SO slowly.  One small act at a time.  One small thought at a time.  One small step at a time.  And before you know it, you hear yourself saying…”I’m not sure I’ve ever had a testimony”,  “I’m really not sure if the church IS true after all”.  and “I’m happier than I’ve ever been without it!”

I think what I am trying to say and what I have been prompted to write is that you have to keep The whole Armor of God on! See Ephesians 6:10-18  Not just sometimes…. ALL THE TIME.  ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!  You must do all the little things EVERY DAY!  Sometimes more than just once a day.  You MUST keep yourself unspotted from the world.  You must live IN the world but not be OF the world.  If you are like me you’ve heard that statement a million times growing up in the church! But it has never been more true or more important than it is today.  In The Book Of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ) Mormon Chapter 8  gives us insight into today’s world, Moroni says he has seen our day, and it includes wars and rumors of wars, great pollutions, murders, robbing, and people who tell us that there is no right or wrong in God’s eyes. He describes people who are filled with pride, caught up in the wearing of expensive clothing, and who make fun of religion. He is shown people who are so obsessed with worldly things that they allow “the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by”3 without being noticed.  

But we should not despair,  it is the Lord’s way that will lead us to life eternal!

The prophet David O. Mckay taught: Christ is the light to humanity. In that light man sees his way clearly; when it is rejected, the soul of man stumbles in darkness. No person, no group, no nation can achieve true success without following him who said:

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)

Has my life gotten easier since I came back to the church?  In some ways yes, and in some ways no.  In reality it has actually been a really hard road.  Quite like a roller coaster, lol.  My family and I have had to go through a lot of things physically, spiritually and mentally that I never thought we would have to go through. But that is how we grow, that is how we become stronger and better people.  We do not grow by being in a comfortable spot where there is nothing changing, no growth. However, through it all I have no doubt that my Savior is with me, that he is my advocate to the Father! I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13 

I am also comforted to know that I need not fear for He is with me, I know where and how to to find the peace that only He can give.

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

I am confident that as I purposefully follow the commandments that I will not be led astray again.  Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the twelve Apostles has been known to say, “If you read the Book of Mormon every day, you will never fall away”.  If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading.  And if you have learned or felt anything, I hope you will realize that my story can happen to anyone!  That you can NEVER take your membership in this gospel for granted!  It truly is a gift!  A gift that is meant to be shared with others!

XO  Wendy

 

 

I will go and do…

I LOVE the youth theme and song for 2020.  I have posted it here and I hope that you will take a few minutes to start your day off knowing that the Lord is with you to lead and guide you if you choose Him first!

That theme comes from the Book of Mormon scripture:

And it came to pass that I Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1Nephi 3:7)

There are many tasks that the Lord has given us that are hard and standing for what you believe in is not easy in the world that we live in daily.  We are constantly bombarded with negative messages and media that can dull our spirit and lead us on a path that draws us further and further away from the light of Christ.

Positivity and faith in God have always been characteristics that I value.  I find that as I move closer and closer to the light of Christ the more the world seems to melt away.

Yes life is hard and we encounter decisions that are really tough every single day.  But we can depend on our Savior to hold us up when we can no longer stand.  We can fall to our knees and plead with Him to help us find the way.

We are instructed over and over again in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, that if we keep his commandments he will prosper us.  I think that statement can mean so many different things to different people and various situations.  To me it has come to have many meanings.  Not only have I seen the monetary benefits of living and keeping the commandments, I have seen so many physical and emotional benefits.  He literally heals me every day as I listen to and follow His way.

It’s never easy and sometimes it seems impossible.  But the Lord keeps his promises.  He WILL NOT fail us.

I remember one specific time when my husband and I were going through a pretty rough trial.  It felt at times that we were trudging through the mud, sometimes stuck in the muck unable to get traction. One day when it seemed impossible that we would ever get through it all, I had a distinct impression come over me.  I felt in my minds eye the spirit whisper to me, “keep going, there is a light at the end of this tunnel”, and for a moment I felt so much relief.  And then, I heard the quiet whisper again “But……” (uh oh, I thought now what?).  And then ever so quietly I heard the words ” but you are not there yet.”  And I remember weeping at the thought that we had to continue on this hard path for who knew how much longer?  But I’d been given that small moment of relief to know that we were getting there. Slowly.  By our obedience and faith and our positive outlook, we were getting there.  I had hope again.

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Standing for what we believe and know is right, is never easy.  But it will be so worth it. The Lord WILL provide a way for us to do what he has asked us to do. And even though it seems like all hope is lost at times.  He will not forsake us (I will never leave thee or forsake thee.  Hebrews 13:5).  HE WILL provide a way.  For that we can be sure.

Please know that you are never alone.

XO Wendy

 

Are you a hope maker or taker?

Have you ever had someone take your hope away simply by their words?  Have you ever been filled with despair because someone said something about you, or to you that was completely defeating?  Yeah, me too.  Words are very powerful! We can go from completely elated to simply defeated in the time it takes to say, “you can’t”, “you will never” or “that’s impossible for you”.

And even more important, is the way we talk to ourselves.  “It’s hopeless”,  I’m so stupid”, “I will never be….”, and my favorite, “I can’t…”  Why is it so easy for us to use words in such a negative way, especially to ourselves?  Well, I haven’t completely figured out the answer to that question.  But what I do know is that I have had my share of negative words thrown my way, spoken behind my back by others. As well as given to me through my own negative self-talk.  And I am positive that I am not so much different than anybody else.

So today I wanted to offer you some encouragement through the words of someone who had every right to lose hope, but somehow found it. This is well worth the 15 minutes out of your day to watch Nick Vujicic

Please use positive self talk and practice self love. Look for hope.  Find it. And live it!

XO Wendy

Joy and Spiritual Survival

Hi there, welcome back!

Continuing our discussion on Joy.  I came across this talk given by the prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the October 2016 General Conference.  You can find the whole talk here.  Joy and spiritual survival, it’s AMMMazing.  So go read it!

The one statement that stuck out to me was this:

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

I absolutely love that statement.  It’s so beautiful.  you see, we have the power within us to feel joy when we choose to focus on the Savior.  He is the one and only true source of light, love and true joy.  Granted, sometimes we can not change our circumstances but we can choose where our focus will be.  Even amidst the struggles and the trials of life, we can seek to feel joy in the little seemingly unnoticeable things.

I remember several times as a young mother when I was deep in the throngs of depression.  Every menial task seemed like it would overtake me.  It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never gone through depression.  But the feelings of doubt and inadequacy were so real and raw.  It was so hard just to get myself out of bed in the morning.  But I had 4 littles that needed their mama and that’s the only thing that kept me going. That, and my trust in the Lord that He had a bigger plan for me.

One morning everything seemed to be going wrong.  I felt I couldn’t even function normally.  As I reached up to grab a box of cereal, it came crashing down. Cereal scattered across the kitchen floor.  And all I could do was just sit down in the middle of the kitchen and cry.  “I can’t do this Lord”, “Please help me,” I pleaded.

As I opened my tear stained eyes and started to clean up the mess I hear pitter pattering across the floor.  “It’s ok mommy”.  All at once there it was an incredible, indescribable feeling of peace and joy that enveloped me as I scooped my daughter into my arms and just hugged her.  At that moment, I I felt the arms of the Savior around me like a warm blanket.  I know He was sending me a message that if I focused on Him and forgot the little unimportant things, in this case, cereal scattered on my floor, lol, that He would be there to pick up the pieces and help me get my life back.  That simple moment of joy, though brief, carried me through many moments as I learned how to battle my illness.

Life is not easy, all of us have things that we bear and struggle with, but if we can put our focus and trust in the Lord.  He will guide us…. always.  And we CAN have moments of joy scattered across our lives instead of cereal scattered across our floor.

Focus on the Savior.  He is the source of all joy!

XO Wendy